Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On Meaningless Symbolic Actions

It was recently announced by the MLB and the Players Association that they are going to be strengthening the penalties for players caught using banded substances.  I'm not opposed to this and I think it was driven primarily by players who were upset at A-Rod, but I don't think it really will make a huge amount of difference.

The first reason is because players who have been caught in the past have continued to be given major contracts, and so their suspensions have not had any impact on their income.  That means that players will continue to take risks because the payoff is well worth it, just ask Jhonny Peralta and Melky Cabrera.  And the fans of the teams the players are on don't care, simply look at Ryan Braun's reception or the way the Red Sox support Big Papi.  If the player on the other team is doing it it's bad, but for our guy it's just fine.

And the second, although MLB does not want to admit this, but the testing program is really sort of a joke (and it's better than the other leagues).  Of the players who were suspended last year only Ryan Braun had failed a test.  Every single one of the others never tested positive for anything, and thus making suspensions longer for players who fail does nothing because players aren't failing. The only reason these players were caught was because of an investigative reporter in Florida. None one wants to talk about this, but MLB had nothing to do with them being caught, and if they think this is the only "anti-aging" clinic servicing professional athletes they have their heads in the sand more than I think they do (and the sleazy way MLB conducted it's investigation should make everyone sick).  And on the same topic, why are the press and the other leagues not investigating this clinic in regards to the other professional and college athletes whose names were also reportedly in the reports?

This was largely a meaningless symbolic action for both parties.  Bud Selig can continue to talk about how he is tough on drugs, when he isn't and wasn't, and how he cleaned up the game, when he didn't, and the players can talk about how they are cooperating and want the game played cleanly, even when it isn't.  For those stupid enough to get caught, the penalties are stiffer, but there is little other penalty facing them when they can still count on getting big contracts on the other side and so the potentials still far outweigh the risks.

And speaking of meaningless symbolic actions, the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry recently approved four actions to help increase the numbers of young clergy and to support them. (here is an article on the plans)  This all comes out of a young clergy symposium held two years ago to talk about young clergy, recruitment and issues facing young clergy, in which the vast majority of the people attending were over the age of 50.  That about shows the problem the church has in even talking about young clergy, they don't engage with them even when they are supposed to.

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